Mozzarella is a yummy, fun cheese to make and eat! Buying (good mozzarella) at the store is not as easy. It can’t be purchased raw (in most areas) because it is not an aged cheese, and only cheeses aged 60 days or more can be sold raw in areas where raw milk sales are illegal (this is arbitrary; aging doesn’t guarantee any safety, anymore more than pasteurizing does).
Most shredded mozzarellas are filled with corn starch and other fillers and stabilizers so it doesn’t stick together in one big lump in the bag. Unfortunately, my daughter reacted worst to mozzarella of any cheese when she was dairy-free, so going back to store-bought was a big no-no for quite awhile (now we will occasionally choose whole milk, unshredded mozzarella if in a pinch). But making it is so easy, really.
I started out reading my directions at Heavenly Homemakers, but eventually evolved my own process and recipe that I preferred. So today I’m sharing it with you.
You will need:
- 1 gallon of milk, preferably raw (but not ultra-pasteurized)
- 8-qt. stock pot
- 1/4 c. water (divided in 2)
- 1 tsp. citric acid
- 15 drops liquid rennet
- 1/4 c. sea salt
First, scoop the cream off your milk. I do this because Laura at Heavenly Homemakers says that it will separate anyway if I don’t, wasting the cream. I haven’t tried leaving it in. Plus, I like that I can make raw butter from the cream!
Then, pour the milk into your 8-qt. stock pot. You could use a larger one if you want and will definitely need to if you want to do more than one gallon at a time.
Mix together 2 tbsp. filtered water and 1 tsp. citric acid.
Add this to the pot of milk.
Stir it gently to combine.
Now, place a lid on the pot and turn it on low. Leave it for 15 – 20 minutes, until it’s warmed. Laura says 91 degrees; I never bother to check with a thermometer. When it feels slightly warm to my finger, it’s ready. Remove it from the heat. (Now…for some cheeses, the exact temperature really does matter. Do not listen to my “guess and check” method if you are attempting an aged cheese or something more complicated. I have not done these myself but think it is probably important to check exactly.)
Mix your rennet with the remaining 2 tbsp. water. Add this to the pot.
Now, stir it up and cover it. Leave it for 15 – 20 minutes now, until the milk solidifies into cheese and whey. Now, using a long knife, slice the cheese into cubes, like this:
Let this sit another few minutes until it fully separates. The greenish whey will pool onto of the cheese.
Line a colander with cheesecloth. I use birdseye cotton, because that’s what I have around. It works too. Pour the cheese into the colander, with a bowl underneath. Save the whey!!
Pull the cloth together and use a rubber band to close it. I often use one of my daughter’s million hair ties.
Hang it somehow to dry. If you can’t, you can just leave it sit in the colander and it works fine. It needs to sit overnight, or at least 8 hours, so that all the whey will drip out.
Now, you’re ready for the last step! Here’s what the cheese looks like after draining completely:
Cut the cheese into cubes. Pour the whey back into your stock pot and heat it over medium-high heat until it’s steaming (around 180 degrees, but again, I never check). Add your salt and stir to dissolve.
Add the cheese cubes to the steaming whey and stir them around until they melt, using a wooden spoon.
Grab a second wooden spoon and continue to stir and stretch them as they melt. This stretching is what makes it mozzarella! It will turn shiny as you do this, too.
Doesn’t that look fun?! Keep using both spoons to stretch it and wind it, dipping it back into the boiling whey if it starts to cool too much. Make sure that all the cubes are completely melted so you don’t end up with lumpy, weird cheese (I’ve done this in the past, it still tastes fine).
Once it’s shiny and stretched, form it into a ball and place it into a glass container with some water surrounding it. Make sure the water covers the top of the ball so that it doesn’t dry out. (Yes, I know I put it in a regular bowl here and the water’s not completely covering it, but I was about to use it to make pizza so it didn’t matter.)
Now you have mozzarella! Easy, right?
Have you ever made mozzarella, or do you want to try?
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